The quest continues for the Calgary Flames as they try to string back-to-back wins together for the first time since late October…it wouldn’t come on Thursday night, as they fell 2-1 at the hands of the Los Angeles Kings. However, had it not been for Miikka Kiprusoff in net, this game could have been far more slanted towards the home side.
The Flames actually got off to a pretty good start, controlling the opening ten minutes of this hockey game, and getting a few quality scoring chances. One of those chances resulted in a Flames goal, at least at first…Matt Stajan kicked in a puck bouncing around the goal mouth, but upon review, it was deemed Stajan made a visible kicking motion, and the goal didn’t count. And from that point forward, the Kings looked pretty darn good…and they scored the opening goal at 12:08, thanks to Kyle Clifford’s first NHL goal. Going hard to the net, Clifford deflected a Wayne Simmonds pass off his skate to put the Kings up 1-0 after 20. It’s imortant to point Miikka Kiprusoff made as good a save as you’ll ever see on Jarret Stoll in the first period.
The second period was all Kings…it wasn’t even close. Granted, LA had the benefit of a few powerplays in the middle frame, but Calgary was worked at even strength as well. Shots ended up 11-4 in favor of the Kings while scoring chances were 10-3, and they were the better team throughout the middle frame. Kiprusoff had to make a number of saves, and Calgary was very fortunate to come away only trailing by a goal after 40.
The third period saw the Flames come out with a little jump, which is exactly what they needed. The fact is, they were outplayed for 20 straight minutes, but still had a chance to win this hockey game…and they had a couple opportunities early in the final frame. But a Robyn Regehr tripping call at 4:27 gave the Kings their fifth powerplay of the game, and they’d cash…a Jack Johnson point shot would break the stick of Curtis Glencross, and Anze Kopitar would bang home the bouncing puck at 5:10 to give the Kings a 2-0 lead. Calgary would start to press a little bit towards the latter stages of the third period, and would get a powerplay late…an Olli Jokinen goal at 16:39 got the Flames back within one. It was the first powerplay goal scored against the Kings at home this season, but it was as close as Calgary would get.
One Good Reason…
…why the Flames lost? Uh…because they weren’t good enough. Los Angeles could have put this one far out of reach in the second period, and they played pretty good hockey throughout. The Flames were credited with 20 giveaways, which sounds about right. Calgary was soft at both bluelines, and spoiled numerous opportunities to stall LA cycles…when the Flames don’t play smart, they usually don’t win. That’s what happened on this night.
This one is easy…Miikka Kiprusoff. His jaw dropping save in the first period perhaps overshadows just how good he was on this night. The second period turned in by #34 was probably his best of the season, making numerous difficult saves on quality Kings chances. Overall, Kiprusoff made 30 saves, and I thought this was his strongest outing of 2010-11 campaign.
Sum It Up
Calgary just wasn’t up to snuff on this night, and once again, they trailed a hockey game after 40. The Kings are very, very strong defensively and we saw that on this night, so it was a formula that probably wasn’t going to work for Calgary heading into the third. Yet, the Flames were worked in the second and came away just down by the one goal…yet the unforced errors that plagued them in the first two periods were still there in a third period they needed to win. Win one, lose one isn’t going to cut it…but lose two really isn’t, so win in Anaheim tomorrow night.
Pertinent to note, Rene Bourque’s spear on Drew Doughty late in the third period may get looked at by the league. I got a lot of response on Twitter about my initial reaction, saying that Doughty embellished. Who knows; but what is Bourque doing? Very, very stupid.